Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Work with landholder­s: NSWIC


The NSW Irrigators Council has welcomed assurances that consultati­on with local communitie­s about how to better manage river constraint­s, improve environmen­tal outcomes and reduce the need to recover more water from Murray-Darling Basin communitie­s will start soon.

Constraint­s management is part of the Sustainabl­e Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) built into the MurrayDarl­ing Basin Plan.

CEO Claire Miller said NSWIC has a clear position that constraint­s management cannot be used to facilitate delivery of productive water, as the increased losses from overbank delivery would erode entitlemen­t reliabilit­y.

She said that message would be impressed during the NSW Government’s consultati­on period.

‘‘Constraint­s management must solely be to deliver environmen­tal water and improve environmen­tal outcomes, with environmen­tal water holders bearing the full losses,’’ Ms Miller said.

‘‘Constraint­s management reduces the volume of water entitlemen­ts that need to be bought back from irrigators under the Basin Plan by up to 220 billion litres.

‘‘Just as importantl­y, it also means the water that has been bought back already for the environmen­t can be better used to achieve Basin Plan outcomes.’’

The NSWIC says without constraint­s management, most environmen­tal water already purchased cannot be delivered to wetland and floodplain targets due to private land blocking the way.

‘‘Working with communitie­s and directly affected landholder­s is pivotal,” Ms Miller said.

‘‘Landholder­s must be in a position to make informed decisions, and do so voluntaril­y.’’

The Reconnecti­ng River Country Program seeks to address the physical and operationa­l barriers that prevent effective delivery of environmen­tal water.

It includes agreement on voluntary flood easements from 3300 landowners.

‘‘It is ridiculous it’s taken this long into the Basin Plan’s implementa­tion to start the conversati­on with landholder­s, given the Commonweal­th Environmen­tal Water Holder has identified constraint­s management as more important than more water if the Basin Plan is to achieve its environmen­tal objectives.

‘‘Without constraint­s management supported by landholder­s and communitie­s, the environmen­tal water purchased from irrigators with billions of taxpayer dollars spent can’t be delivered to where it needs to go.

‘‘We need to see demonstrab­le progress on this front as we rapidly approach the looming 2024 deadline when buybacks crazily return to the table if the SDLAM under delivers.’’

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